Every startup (like every marriage) starts with optimism. We get together with like-minded people and we start going in a direction. If all goes well, we build something amazing together that actually has legs.
I've been incredibly lucky to have had that experience over the past 4 years - I got together with a couple of co-founders and we created MAD Security, and built it to an amazing place in what felt like an incredibly short time.
Often, though, we find that we've grown in different directions through the years. I've had that experience as well. On Friday, I sent this to the team at MAD:
Most of you probably don't know, but Sunday is an anniversary of sorts - we filed the paperwork to start MAD on January 26, 2010. And it has been an amazing 4 years - good, bad, ugly and everything in between. We started as just 4 people (me, Aaron, Dean and Mike Bailey) and, over the course of those first 4 years have built an amazingly interesting and diverse company with the best team of 35 employees/long-term contractors (according to the number of email inboxes) that I've ever been a part of.
In the course of that kind of amazing growth (heck, we intentionally slowed down last year and still had nearly 10% revenue growth), the company has changed a lot. And, often, startups that grow massively in its first few years leave their founders behind as that growth necessitates culture change. Over the past few months, it's become clear that the senior team has been struggling with that here.
All of that has lead to one conclusion: it's time for me to leave MAD, and leave the company in the hands of the amazing team that we've built. I've been working over the past couple of weeks with the other partners and the other senior members of the team (e.g. Cliff, Brad) to make sure that the organization won't skip a beat.
The few people I've shared this with have asked: "what's next?" In short, I don't know. And I don't plan to really make any decisions for at least a couple of weeks... after 4 years of building this company, I need to take a bit of time. I figured it out recently - I've flown almost 400,000 miles in those 4 years, all of it in support of building MAD. Maybe I'll find another startup to join. Maybe I'll finally finish the two half-written books I have on my hard drive. Or perhaps I'll join a big company and become a MAD customer. ;-)
I'll still have my email (though it's going to forward to my firstname.lastname@example.org address so I only have to check one place), and I'm still always available for any of you and for anything you need. All of my social media info is below - please connect with me so we can keep in touch through those ways as well.
I'm incredibly proud to have been part of building this team and I have learned an immense amount in the last 4 years. MAD is clearly a rocket-ship poised for the next stage of it's growth and I'm going to enjoy watching the launch, even though I'm not going to be on the rocket with you all.
When I was in college, I got great advice from a guitar teacher of mine (when I had menetioned that I had broken up with a girl I was dating): "The only relationship in your life that doesn't end is the one you're in when you die."
We often don't consider that this applies to company founders as well: unless the founders stay with the company until it ceases to exist (through sale or bankruptcy) or until they do, everyone who starts a company will eventually part ways with it.